People who are researching their weight loss surgery options are usually very curious about laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, weight loss surgery. The reasons why are obvious. When applied to surgery, the phrase "minimally invasive" can seem pretty appealing.
But what exactly is laparoscopic weight loss surgery, and how is it minimally invasive? These are the questions we will answer in this article.
Laparoscopic or Minimally Invasive Surgery
Before we talk about laparoscopic weight loss surgery, let's first define the medical term "laparoscopic." The rest of this article will make more sense if we start with the basic terminology at work here.
Laparoscopic is simply the adjective form of laparoscopy, which describes a type of minimally invasive surgery in which a small incision is made to allow for the use of a laparoscope -- essentially an extremely thin fiber-optic camera. By inserting this camera or "scope" (along with other devices) into the incision, surgeons can perform a particular procedure in a less invasive manner. In this context, "less invasive" simply means smaller incisions and a less damaging entry into the body.
As you might imagine, the primary advantage of laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery (as compared to "open surgery") is, in most cases, a quicker recovery period for the patient.
Minimally Invasive Weight Loss Surgery
Armed with a better understanding of laparoscopic surgery, you can now realize why minimally invasive weight loss surgery appeals to people who are considering surgery. After all, who wouldn't want a quicker recovery?
The important thing to realize is that there are several types of weight loss surgeries available, and most of them have a minimally invasive laparoscopic alternative. Let's talk about the laparoscopic methods for two popular types of weight loss surgery -- gastric bypass and gastric banding.
Laparoscopic Surgery - The Gastric Bypass
Take the gastric bypass surgery, for example -- one of the most common types of bariatric weight-loss surgery. A gastric bypass essentially reduces the patient's stomach capacity by sectioning off a smaller portion of the stomach and then "bypassing" the small intestine … hence the name gastric bypass. As you would imagine based on that description, this is a significant level of surgery with a significant recovery period.
But by taking the laparoscopic weight loss surgery approach here, the gastric bypass can be less invasive (and therefore less damaging) to the patient. In many cases, the minimally invasive laparoscopic technique has been shown to expedite recovery time while decreasing the amount of post-operative pain.
Laparoscopic Approach to Gastric Banding
As a weight loss surgery option, the adjustable gastric band has become increasingly popular in recent years. This type of surgery (often called LAP-BAND surgery, in reference to a particular product name), seeks to achieve similar end-results as the gastric bypass. But it goes about achieving those results differently. With a banding procedure, an adjustable band -- usually made of silicon -- is inserted around the upper part of the patient's stomach to create the smaller stomach "pouch" described earlier.
As with gastric bypass, this type of weight loss surgery can be done in laparoscopic fashion. In fact, laparoscopic adjustable banding is part of the acronym that makes up the product name LAP-BAND System, a popular banding product made by Allergan, Inc.
Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery is Still Surgery
In closing, I'd like to remind you that laparoscopic surgery is still surgery. "That's silly," you might say, "of course it's still surgery." What I mean is this. Some people have a tendency to think that minimally invasive means "risk free," and this is obviously not the case. All surgeries have potential risks and complications, and that applies to laparoscopic weight loss surgeries as well.
Before deciding on a surgery option (or even to have surgery in the first place), always consult an experiences surgeon, seek second opinions, and do plenty of research on your own. This article is not meant to "glamorize" weight loss surgery in any way. It is only meant to explain the widely accepted benefits and definitions of laparoscopic weight loss surgery.